2013 - the year in review: The best classical performances of the year

Written on Skin (Royal Opera House)

That’s my boy: Chorister George in his 'civvies' of Chetham's School of Music

Choristers at Christmas: In perfect harmony

Amid 11 hours of cathedral rehearsals and five services a week, the conventional education rolls along as normal at Chetham's School of Music. Still, it takes a special kind of dedication to be a chorister – and, as Ian Herbert has discovered, a chorister's parent

Always a winner: Harrison Birtwistle

Don't always let male composers call the tune

Thirteen composers won awards last week. All were male. Jessica Duchen is furious

No turning back: the playwright and ‘Independent’ music critic Jessica Duchen

My tricky waltz with Wagner

The German composer was a confirmed anti-Semite – but that didn't deter our correspondent, who loves his music, from wanting to write a play to celebrate his bicentenary

Classical concert of the week: 200 Motels, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1

"Filth for filth's sake," fulminated the Royal Albert Hall in 1971, when cancelling its sold-out premiere at just three days' notice. "Have I got to listen to this?" bleated the judge when the song "Penis Dimension" was played in court during the subsequent breach-of-contract suit, and his pro-RAH verdict was as good as delivered.

Great Britten: A timeless master of melody

As his centenary year reaches a climax, Claudia Pritchard hails the composer

Digging deep: 'The Wasp Factory' at the Linbury Studio

The Wasp Factory: An opera with murder in its heart and a sting in its tale

Iain Banks' cult novel is the unlikely source for a new show at Covent Garden

Food for thought: Nico Muhly, composer

The American composer is a co-founder of the LA Dance Project, which makes its London debut at Sadler’s Wells this week. His opera Two Boys also opens next month at the Met in New York. He tells Charlotte Cripps  about his current reading, watching and listening ...

On this day 1910: Mahler's Symphony No 8 premiered in Munich

Mahler's Symphony No 8 – the Symphony of a Thousand, with its 850-strong choir – premiered in Munich. Previous works had been met with indifference, but this time the Austrian composer received a 20-minute standing ovation

Hitting the high notes: Marin Alsop

It's time to pass the baton on to our female maestros

There are more women conductors than recent media stories imply – they just don't get the top jobs

The Tallis Scholars delivering transcendent a cappella polyphony, with Nigel Kennedy orientalising Vivaldi with the Palestine Strings

Michael Church: The Proms – a colossal ensemble work with a few duff notes

o farewell to another Proms season, with its pleasures and surprises, longueurs and banalities. Moments I will long remember: blind pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii making something rich and luminous out of Rach Two, Ex Cathedra debating love in a babel of unknown tongues, the Tallis Scholars delivering transcendent a cappella polyphony, Nigel Kennedy (pictured) orientalising Vivaldi with the Palestine Strings. Most of these were Late Proms. There's a magic in the Royal Albert Hall when the streets outside go quiet and minds are sharpened.

Bryn Terfel, Welsh bass-baritone opera and concert singer

'Stop mocking the Mormons,' says opera star Bryn Terfel who has been 'embraced' by the faith

The bass-baritone, recently in Salt Lake City to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, was visited at home in Wales by missionaries who tried to convert him

Showstopper: Pavarotti sings 'Nessun Dorma'

A spellbinding soundtrack to love, life and loss

Nessun Dorma's appeal extends far beyond opera, says Jessica Duchen

Take a bow: Julian Lloyd Webber plays with six-year-old Lauren Russell, a member of In Harmony

Julian Lloyd Webber: I'm doing a Dudamel over here

The Venezuelan conductor showed how poor children could become musicians. Julian Lloyd Webber explains how he was determined to do the same here. The result can be seen at the Proms on Sunday

Troubled waters: Brindley Sherratt and Jacques Imbrailo in 'Billy Budd' at this year's Glyndebourne Festival

When Britten's world was all at sea: How Billy Budd reflects the composer's own turbulent times

A full programme of Britten's works at the Proms culminates in a semi-staged performance of Michael Grandage's acclaimed Glyndebourne production of the story of an outsider fighting the establishment

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